How to keep my dog from peeing in his kennel?
December 13, 2010 11:42 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend's dog, a 7 year old beagle, has recently starting peeing in his crate at night. Why is he doing this, and how can we fix it?

My boyfriend has had his dog, Dutch, since he was a baby puppy. He has been fully housetrained, with only the occasional accident. He's very good about asking to go out--if I'm home with him all day, he always starts bugging me if he needs something.

When we first moved to our apartment about 7 months ago, my boyfriend had not been crating Dutch at night. In the past, however, he has crated him at night successfully. We decided not long after moving in that Dutch was going to be crated at night again, since he is a bed hog. We did this for a few months with no problems, but then about a month ago started slacking off and letting him sleep with us again. Last week we decided to start crating him again, but the first night we did this, he whined all night and peed in his crate. Then, once we got new bedding and cleaned the crate, we tried again a few days later--same result. The next night he wasn't crated, and he decided to pee on the floor at the foot of our bed. Then last night we crated him again, and he started whining at about 3am and had peed in his crate.

We aren't really sure what's going on. He doesn't need to go out frequently during the day, and can hold it while we are at work just fine. So we don't think that it's a medical problem (although we are making a vet appointment and will be talking to the vet about this to rule out anything). The night that he peed at the foot of the bed, I had taken him out just three hours earlier, and he hadn't signaled to either of us that he needed to out like he always does during the day.

Looking online, my boyfriend says he read something about how changes can cause this kind of "acting out" behavior. It seems like if he was unhappy with our living arrangement, or with the cat who he became roommates with when we moved in together, he would have started acting out much earlier. The only thing we've changed in the apartment is putting some stuff in storage, and neither of our schedules have changed significantly. Also, we don't crate him during the day, as he doesn't need it--he's an old man and pretty much sleeps all day as far as we know. So it's not that he's pissed about spending too much time in his crate, since nighttime is the ONLY time he spends in it.

I hope this isn't too long, but I wanted to include as many details that might be relevant as I could in case something stuck out as a problem to someone. Can anyone think of what might be causing this, and what we can do to fix it?
posted by sherber to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
I would definitely, definitely take him to the vet pronto. It is very un-doglike for a dog to pee in his own crate. He could have a urinary tract infection. He could also have spinal cord issues that steroids could help with. (If he's not in control of his bladder, he may not be sensing everything that's going on down there.
posted by musofire at 11:54 AM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

You need to start crate training again from scratch, not just isolating him at night.

He needs to turn it back into his happy place.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:58 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Typically dogs won't pee where they sleep, but if your crate is too large for the dog it's possible he is peeing on one side and sleeping on the other. You didn't mention the size of the crate, but you may want to consider getting a crate that is smaller / fits-better.
posted by sdinan at 12:02 PM on December 13, 2010

AFAIK, consistency is super important with training dogs. Either crate him or don't; letting him sleep with you one night then in the crate the next is possibly confusing for him. I think him being confused is separate from the "accidents", but consistency should help him acclimate to the routine you pick.
posted by ShadePlant at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, get back to consistency. At this point, he's confused. Pick one place and stick with it; it may take him days/week to get back into the routine. Good luck!
posted by iguanapolitico at 12:08 PM on December 13, 2010

Mine used to do this. It stopped when I started giving him a kong full of peanut butter when I put him in. It distracted him from whatever he didn't like, I guess.

I also got him a bed and put it next to mine in my bedroom so he can sleep there instead of getting crated. I think it is a bit unfair to crate him all day when I'm at work and then again at night.
posted by PFL at 12:12 PM on December 13, 2010

musofire- as I said, we are going to take him to the vet. If it's really a medical issue, though, it seems that it should be happening consistently throughout the day--not just at night. He also is very good at letting us know when he needs to go out in the afternoon and evening, so it's not that he can't feel the sensation of needing to go.
posted by sherber at 12:32 PM on December 13, 2010

I'd see the vet sooner rather than later. Hopefully, he's just upset at the inconsistency.

My family had a beagle who, at the same age as yours, started peeing indoors and having a lot of incontinence issues. He had a thyroid condition that we didn't discover until it was too late; we lost him about a week before we got his prescription because it didn't get diagnosed early enough.

Your dog is probably healthy, and just a little confused and stressed out, but it's good that you're taking him to the vet soon.
posted by Lifeson at 1:59 PM on December 13, 2010

Just to note — you may not actually know if he's peeing during the day; he might be choosing the most out of the way spots. But if it's not medical, it's probably anxiety, and even if he's adapted to the changes with the new living situation, the further switcheroos with his sleeping arrangements might be feeling too much for him.

When he's in the crate, is he in the bedroom, or a different room? If he's been accustomed to sleeping on the bed, and is now expected to sleep in the crate in a different room, especially, I bet he's feeling very insecure. My dog is used to sleeping next to the bed, and even when I invite her up onto the bed for cuddling she will join me, very excited and happy about the attention, settle down there for a short while — but always leaves on her own to go back to her place beside the bed to sleep. Dogs are very, very much creatures of habit.

However the vet visit turns out, it's going to be best to choose one sleeping situation for him and stick with it. If I were you I'd consider getting a nice doggy bed and putting it near your bed, since he seems really unhappy about the crate. (There's also this sort of option, if you'd like to stick with a crate, but space in the bedroom is an issue.) Whatever you choose, you'll need to train him that the doggy bed/new crate/old crate is his special place, and give him extra yummy treats, beloved toys, etc. there. At any rate, best if he's in the bedroom, and he definitely needs his own spot that feels safe and doesn't change. You might need to tough it out in the beginning if he cries, but be consistent, and once he's accustomed to his own cozy spot associated with good things, he should be fine again.
posted by taz at 11:49 PM on December 13, 2010

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